creativity in slow doses

Pastel on paper, 2002

Reading this piece on creativity in relation to age made me understand something critical and validating about my own creative process..

I always thought I was brash and rash, that I painted/created spontaneously, intuitively, based on instinct…so I thought I’d fall under the first set–the conceptualists. But reading more, I realized I’m actually more of an experimentalist, like Cezanne, who was a “late-bloomer”:

  • Cezanne rarely preconceived a work. He figured out what he was painting by actually painting it.
  • Cezanne signed less than 10 percent of his paintings
  • Experimentalists never know when their work is finished
  • Experimental poets like Wallace Stevens, Robert Frost, and William Carlos Williams, whose work is grounded in concrete images and everyday language, took years to mature
  • Experimentalist Mark Twain frobbed around with different writing styles and formats and wrote The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn at 50
  • An experimental economist progresses more quietly, more inductively, step- by-careful-step
  • Pollock was an experimental innovator who spent two decades tinkering, and this painting is a triumph of that process. To paint it, he laid the canvas on the floor, splattered it with paint, walked around it, tacked it to the wall, looked at it, put it back on the ground, splattered it with more paint, and so on. “This painting is full of innovations,” Galenson says, “but Pollock arrived here by trial and error. He was a slow developer.”

In high school people knew me as the abstract thinker, that I think in concepts, always the big picture… but my breakpoint in college saw me shift from the ambitious, driven achiever to someone who celebrated the ordinary, the everyday, and consequently someone who relaxed more…

All the while I’ve been wondering (esp lately) if I necessarily gave up something …that if the quest for excellence over mediocrity was abandoned (unfairly, and maybe momentarily)…

But given this insight into two types of creative geniuses, more and more I’m assured that slowburn is just as valid, probable, and effective.. 🙂